Unevenness 2013-14, The Brazil Programme at the Cass

Denicke-Polcher, Sandra, Jessen, Dann, Hall, Richard, Lewis, Julian and Lösing, Judith (2014) Unevenness 2013-14, The Brazil Programme at the Cass. Project Report. CASS Projects, London Metropolitan University, London Metropolitan University Print Centre.


Visiting and working in São Paulo since 2011 the Brazil Programme has been exploring transformative processes for a fresh approach to the city. We are researching opportunities for how the city can be carefully adjusted to strengthen a sense of generosity. As a strategy for the city the search for generosity aims to identify ways for enhancing existing qualities of the city as well as radical change to make the most of investment into places in ways that strengthen a sense of ‘common ground’, city as public realm.

2013-14 was the third time that a group of Diploma Unit 3 students took a trip for two weeks to São Paulo – to immerse themselves into the complex city fabric and explore urban situations through observation and involvement with processes of urban change. Though we work each year with a different student cohort, our students contribute to a shared expertise and an overall body of work which accumulates over the years. Design projects are developed from this joint live experience, where our students take on a unique role, acting between residents of a city and professional architects and planners. The information, which is jointly gathered this way, is used as part of a briefmaking process for urban propositions.

In 2013-14 our students explored the latent opportunities for ‘public-ness’ and generosity within São Paulo’s prevalent ‘tower-on-plinth’ urbanism, set in the context of the city’s currently underperforming centre. Collectively, the proposals shown in this book have strong potential for influencing future attitudes towards development within the centre of São Paulo, and the potential role of these districts within the wider city, as they are part of an ongoing programme of discussion with professionals, academics and city authorities.

Every year, a series of lectures and exhibitions, both at the Cass and in São Paulo, further enhance the dissemination of these live projects beyond the Cass and our partner school in São Paulo, Escola da Cidade. In December 2011 a return visit by our partner school enabled a discussion of our work on regeneration projects identified with the Municipal Housing Secretariat in São Paulo (SEHAB). In May 2013 we discussed what the ‘tabula nonrasa’ approach to urbanism developed in London in recent years can offer São Paulo. In November 2013 we held a workshop with Cass and Escola da Cidade students in São Paulo and we showed Cass projects set in São Paulo in a well received exhibition at Escola da Cidade. In March 2014, this exhibition was shown at the Cass and accompanied by lectures by Ana Araujo, Tony Fretton, Heidi Svenningsen Kajita, and Paul Vermeulen.

These encounters have been very encouraging and offer students a chance to connect their research to a wider frame and build upon the strong link between the two schools and cities. We are looking forward to the programme developing further and would like to thank staff and students from the Cass and Escola da Cidade, as well as all the supporters, who are making the ongoing Brazil Programme happen.

This publication is organised to reflect the unit’s approach to working in the city; a process of careful looking as a basis for development of place specific ideas for the city across all scales, from strategy to detail.

Sandra Denicke-Polcher, Deputy Head of School of Architecture
Dann Jessen, East / Cass Diploma Unit 3

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